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Wintering Calves

Triple_S

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What's your opinion on running some steers and/or heifers over winter this year. I should have plenty of fescue to stockpile and I've got enough hay and baleage even if I didn't have any grass to run them. Thinking about 5cwt's and running them on grass/hay/salt/minerals alone, no grain. Would you be scared of the market with such a high purchase price? Maybe October 1st to May 1st. Just 1lb a day gain would put them at 7cwt but they should do better than that. What kind of market could I hope for next May for 7-8cwt?

Other option is to sell the hay but the hay market here isn't hitting on much this year. Maybe $25-35/4x5 round or $60-70/ton.
I guess I could just add some spring calving cows but I was kinda hoping for a different type and time of cash flow.

Keep in mind that NC isn't the harsh winters I see many of you have. A couple of 2" snowfalls is usually average. Very rarely stays below freezing for a full day. I'm not big time like some of you either, I'm talking about 100 head or so.

Go ahead and call it stupid if you want. I'd rather you tell me now than me find out next spring.
 

Faster horses

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I am wondering how you could afford to hold them if they are
only gaining a lb. per day. Why wouldn't you push them a bit,
sell them earlier and replace them and do the same thing? Wouldn't
you be turning your money over twice?

I'm not saying I have the answer, this truly is a question.
I wonder about the guys who put their calves in a feedlot
to gain only a lb/day and then they turn them out on grass
for the summer. It just seems to me they could push them
some (the yardage is the same), sell them in Jan. or Feb
and buy some back to keep over for summer.
 

Triple_S

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Just trying to keep input $'s as low as possible. They should do better than 1lb a day with stockpiled fescue and oat balage free choice. I can feed them if I should, but this may be my first go at anything except a cow/calf operation so I was just thinking to squeeze by with the least amount of money invested and not risk so much. I'm not expecting to get rich or go into the feedlot business. Could you show me the figures on feed cost and increased gain? I'm more than willing to listen. Thanks sincerly for your opinion.
 

Triple_S

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I guess my thinking was "baby steps"

If it works and I see there is room for feed cost then push next years group a little harder.

All I should have in it is labor (going to be there anyways but add working the calves), vaccinations, dewormer, antibiotics, death loss, and the occasional calf that just doesn't do well.
 

Silver

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I like your line of thinking Triple_S. If you do like you are saying and get between 1 and 1 1/2 lbs on them that's a good return on your hay. We've always felt that unless you're in the feeding and finishing business you're better off to just let them frame up over the winter. In the spring you can sell into the optimism fueled grasser market or grass them yourself if things are looking good. I would be nervous of buying in this market though (I'm a chicken that way) but keeping my own calves is a pretty attractive thought.
 

High Plains

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I'd say you have a good plan. If you have a lot of excess feed, as you say, and your hay is only worth $65 on your market then what have you got to lose? Heck, if you buy some nice, even Angus calves then they should sell well next spring. Cattle numbers are on the decline and there will be a heck of a good market next spring. Once we get past these June and July feedlot placements coming out of the feedlot in Oct. - Dec. then look out. I am optimistic, but even if the market doesn't take off I don't see it falling out of bed completely by next spring. Your conservative approach on the gain is smart because feeding grain is going to start to cost you something. Your cost of gain is going to be quite low and this is the same wintering program that many smart operators do here in my neck of the woods. If I were sitting on your feed resources I'd get right after it. Best of luck with your decision.
 

RSL

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Another option to consider might be custom wintering cows or backgrounding calves. Guaranteed return on the hay, and potentially regular cash flow over the entire winter. You could also possibly work out a share deal with the share of the cattle increasing each month on feed, yet not needing to use cash to buy the cattle.
 

Denny

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I'm keeping nearly all of my heifers this year I see some land purchase in my future and I better cow up to make the payments.Funny thing about buying land the more I buy the more I want.
 

Angus 62

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Grass gain in some instances is less than half the cost of feedlot gain and interest rates are as cheap as they will ever be. There was a time when you couldn't afford to hold them and not push them with cheap grain. Those days are past.
 

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